Colorado Places by County
Hi, welcome to the Colorado Places, a special project of the COGenWeb. My name is Pauli Driver Smith and I am the coordinator for this project. The information on these pages is derived from several sources, and was originally created by Don Stanwyck.
These pages provide a directory to Colorado place names and show the county in which that place exists or existed. We have attempted to include every settlement, trading post, military post, mining camp, ghost town, stage station, railroad stop, post office, rural community, town and city from the earliest known into the present. We did not include geographic features. We did not attempt to include a history of each place. If you know of any Colorado places we missed please let us know.
Sending your addititions and corrections: When you email me, make sure you put COPlaces somewhere in the subject heading. I manage several counties and projects both within and without the COGenWeb Project. This helps me know just what project/county you are refering to.
Notice! This Special Poject is Copyrighted 1998-2011 COGenWeb. All rights reserved.
Find your town of interest:
- Browse the Listings
- Explanation of table contents
- Dates of County Organization
- My place isn't listed!
Compiled index to Colorado Maps on the www.
The tables are divided into two sections: place name, and county. In both cases, more than one entry may be present in the table row. The place names are sorted alphabetically using the space as a character. This may cause some confusion to the reader who doesn't check obvious variations. For example, El Moro and Elmoro Junction are both listed but are separated by forty-four other place names. Elk Horn was officially Elkhorn according to the postal archives; Deer Creek was Deercreek; La Veta, Laveta, Laveta Pass and Veta Pass each have their own widely separated table entries.
To save space in the tables, several commonly used words were abbreviated as follows:
- Aft - After
- Aka - Also Known As
- Bef - Before
- Co. - County
- Est - Established
- Ext - Existed
- Inc - Incorporated
- Orig - Originally
- PO - Post Office
- Prev - Previously
- RR - Railroad
- Terr. - Territory
The county column has information about the place name. If the city was incorporated in Colorado, then the date of incorporation and the county of incorporation is listed (this information was extracted from the Colorado State Archives, see Sources.) Many towns were incorporated or existed as part of a county which was later split or had its boundaries moved, which left the towns in a different county than they started in (see History of County Divisions.) To the degree to which we have been able to gather the information (including the several people who have sent us information) we have tried to trace the history of the place with respect to the county in which it was founded and now exists or existed. Many places existed for quite some time before incorporation and some that achieved fairly large populations never did incorporate.
An example rural post office listing:
|Bryant||PO 1888-1916, Logan Co.
Later Phillips Co.
In 1904 PO was moved into Yuma Co.
This table entry indicates that when the Bryant post office was established in 1888 it was in Logan County, but that it later became part of Phillips County (in 1889) when the original Logan County was divided between three counties - Logan, Sedgwick and Phillips. Then in 1904, when Mattie Turner became postmaster, the Bryant post office was moved from Phillips County to the Turner farmstead in Yuma County. While it was moved a short distance in 1910 and again in 1913, it remained within Yuma County until it closed in 1916.
You will note that we did not provide a location within the county for the places listed. For those details you are invited to review our sources.
Some towns have used variant spellings during their history. If the spelling is extremely close, e.g., dropped or added a space [West Cliffe/ Westcliffe or Highlandlake/Highland Lake], or dropped or added one letter that doesn't affect the sound of the name [Ridgway/Ridgeway], then the names are shown both ways in the same entry. Names which have changed significantly are shown as two individual entries with a pointer to the other [Fletcher; see Aurora], except where the earlier names were short lived or never significant, in which case those other names are shown as prev or briefly [Byers; prev Bijou]. Place name progression is shown by keywords: orig, prev, later, then, now. In other cases, two (or more) names for a place were in common use. These are shown: aka (also known as).
Many Colorado place names were derived from the original French, Spanish and Indian names. The tables attempt to provide the "correct" or "common" place name and "official" variants. Other spelling variations of these names, adopted by later settlers, are also common and are not always noted. Probably the most common Colorado name variant is Canon, locally pronounced as Canyon, which was derived from the Spanish Cañon (meaning Canyon). When you look up a name in the tables, Canon, Cañon and Canyon should be considered interchangeable. Another common variant in southern Colorado is Pinon (common) from the Spanish Piñon (proper) which is locally pronounced and sometimes spelled Pinyon. A bit of historical trivia - American travelers on the Santa Fe Trail dubbed the Purgatoire River the "Picketwire" River. That name variation has been carried forward to present day maps that show the Purgatoire River flowing through the Picketwire Valley in Las Animas County.
Many dates are uncertain. The various sources used differ on the dates of settlement, dates of incorporation, etc. Establishment is easy to determine when a new town is platted, but more difficult when a community simply grew up around an original settler or, as in many of the mining communities, simply was a collection of miners who adopted a name for the general area they were mining in. The dates listed are as best we can determine from these sources.
- Dates containing a tilde (189~) indicate uncertain digits; a tilde preceding a date (~1900) indicates that the date is at best approximate and the event probably occurred between 1895 and 1905.
- Dates containing map references (on 1885-1910 map) indicate the time frame a place name appeared on maps of the county.
- Dates in the form (PO 1901-1923) show the time frame a place name was used as a mailing address based on information from the US Postal Service archives. Dates shown in the tables may span periods when the PO was not in continous operation. As just one example, Brookvale (PO 1876-1942) in Clear Creek County actually operated 1876-1885, was closed for four years and operated again 1889-1942. A date with a single year (1881 PO) shows that the PO named was open only in that year.
- Several post office names are listed in the archives whose establishment was rescinded or may never have operated. These are indicated in the table by a note (Never operated?).
If you don't find what you are looking for here, please check the USGS Geographic Name Server or the MIT Geographic Name Server. If you find a useful answer, please drop us a line (email@example.com) and let us know what you found so we can add it to this list.
- Ever wonder why Colorado has all those "Grand" places - Grand County,
Grand Lake, Grand Valley, Grand Junction and Grand Mesa?
Well wonder no more. Until 1921 the upper part of the Colorado River
from its headwaters in Grand County to where it is joined by the Green
River in today's Canyon Lands NP in southeastern Utah was named the Grand
- The western border of Larimer County was not firmly defined until a
Colorado Supreme Court decision in 1886 set the boundary as the Continental
Divide. Prior to that decision, cartographers and most residents had placed
North Park in Summit County and later in Grand County. This has lead to quite a
bit of confusion about the history of Jackson County places prior to 1886. For
further discussion and period map details see my Larimer County border maps.
- We are ignoring the political issues surrounding the 1901 act creating the original Adams County from the northern part of Arapahoe County. Very different Adams County boundaries were drawn in the revised act that lead to the May 1903 expansion of Washington and Yuma County. Some references show (quite correctly) southern Washington and Yuma County places located in Adams County in 1901-1903. Most, as we did, simply ignore the Adams County lineage and show the area as being transferred directly from Arapahoe County.
- Atlas of Colorado Ghost Towns, Volume 1, by Leanne C. Boyd and H. Glenn Carson, copyright 1984, published by Cache Press, Deming, New Mexico, ISBN 0-9416120-19-0
- Atlas of Colorado Ghost Towns, Volume 2, by Leanne C. Boyd and H. Glenn Carson, copyright 1985, published by Cache Press, Deming, New Mexico, ISBN 0-9416120-35-2
- Colorado Post Offices 1859-1989, William H. Bauer, James L. Ozment and John H. Willard, copyright 1990, published by The Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden, Colorado, ISBN 0-918654-42-4. This is the definitive book for the name, county and dates of operation of Colorado Post Offices. However, the book doesn't provide maps showing the PO location within the designated county boundaries.
- Colorado State Archives Municipal Incorporations page, http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/muninc.html
- Colorado Place Names, by William Bright, copyright 1993, published by Johnson Books, Boulder, Colorado, ISBN 1-55566-102-5. This is a great book. There are many place names in the book that are not listed here, including many geological feature names, names of regions, etc. The derivation of many of the place names is also provided in the book.
- Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer, copyright 1997 and published by DeLorme, P. O. Box 298, Yarmouth, Maine, 04096. www.delorme.com. ISBN 0-89933-206-4.
- James Sorrell, firstname.lastname@example.org, who has sent us so many corrections, additions, and suggestions! Thanks!
- Rand McNally Railroad and Road Atlas (various editions, 1895-1998)
- United States Postal Service Archives, Post Office locations and dates of operation.
- Ghosts of Clear Creek County, by John K. Aldrich, Copyright 1984, 1992, by author. Available from the author.
- Ghosts of Gilpin County, by John K. Aldrich, Copyright 1984, 1992, by author. Available from the author.
- Historic Trail Map of the Denver Quadrangle, by Glenn R. Scott, pub 1999, U.S. Geological Survey. (Contains a comprehensive listing of military and civilian camps, forts and trading posts for the entire state.)
- Colorado Railway Map, pages 212-213 of larger publication; copyright 1899 by Geo. F. Cram, Chicago.
- Standard Atlas of Yuma County Colorado, pub. by George A Ogle & Co., 1922, Chicago
- The American Atlas, compiled by Thomas G. Shanks, 1981
- The Historical Atlas of Colorado, by Thomas Noel, Paul Mahoney, and Richard Stevens, published by and copyright owned by University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.
- Several other helpful people who have sent corrections, additions, and suggestions.